What is phenology?

Photograph of peacock

Phenology is the study of the timing of natural events in relation to weather and climate.

With Nature's Calendar, you can record when you heard the first cuckoo or saw the first blackthorn blossom. As we continue to collect this valuable information on seasonal occurrences we can demonstrate how climate change is affecting our wildlife.

Records from the past

In Japan and China the time of blossoming of cherry and peach trees is associated with ancient festivals and some of these dates can be traced back to the eighth century.

The first individual records that have been found so far in the UK date back to 1684.

Robert Marsham was Britain's first phenologist and recorded his 'Indications of Spring' between 1736 and his death in 1798.

Phenology in the present

In 1875 British phenology took a major leap forward when the Royal Meteorological Society established a national recorder network. Annual reports were published up until 1948.

Aware of the vital importance of continuous records, Tim Sparks, research biologist at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Cambridge, started a pilot scheme in 1998 to revive a phenology network in the UK that would be both compatible with historic records and current international schemes.

In autumn 2000 the Woodland Trust forces joined with the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology to promote phenology to a far wider and larger audience. Thousands of people across the UK are now involved with Nature's Calendar.

Help us track the changing seasons

Photograph of dog rose

If you enjoy watching the seasons change, send us your wildlife sightings

Record with Nature's Calendar